Monday, July 28, 2014

Stay-cation Day 4: San Francisco

We decided to take a break from driving on Wednesday and stuck around home. I had an unplanned doctor's appointment in San Jose so the kids and Al rented a movie and hung around the house.

We figured we needed our endurance for Thursday--our walking legs for San Francisco.

We headed up early so that we'd hit the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park when it opened. Traffic was a bear and we were a bit later than expected, which worked out well because my brother and his girlfriend met us there. They live in SF and both work in the bar-tending/dining industry so their work schedules keep them up very late or early, whichever your perspective.

We took our time around the gardens. The gardens were a bit smaller than I remember, but perfect for the girls.

After we made it through the entire gardens Tara wanted to take us to the top of the DeYoung Museum. It doesn't cost to ride the elevator to the top of Hamon Tower. From there it is a 360 degree
view of the city. It was mostly clear and a breathtaking sight.

We then picnicked on the lawn at the Music Concourse. It was surprisingly warm and still.

After lunch we drove to one end of the park, near the carousel in Koret Children's Quarter, to play soccer. We spent two hours kicking around the ball with the kids. Our friend Chelsea even rode down to the park after work to join us for a little ball. I think we wore out Tara and the kids. Fantastic day!

Tara, Alyssa, Samantha, and Chelsea

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Stay-cation: Day 2 Santa Cruz

We extend our coastal theme in Day 2 with a trip to Santa Cruz.

We headed to Wilder Ranch. They have amazing bike trails, but we decided to use our legs. We have two new bike riders and didn't feel they were ready for trail riding just yet.

Wilder Ranch is an old dairy farm that used to supply the Santa Cruz mission, among others. They still have horses and chickens on the ranch.

The old buildings and barns are really cool, but a bit unnerving when the swallows start flapping around your head!

We spent about an hour walking around the grounds. I'd like to go back on the weekend when they do reenactments of full dairy farm production.

We then headed down to Natural Bridges State Park. This has been our favorite beach in Santa Cruz. It has the beach, of course, trails to the Monarch butterfly gardens, and amazing tide pools. It was a bit cooler than we expected so the girls decided that they'd play in the waves up to their knees.

An hour running in the surf is all that was needed to wear them out. We did try the tide pools but the waves were crashing a bit more forceful than we were comfortable with. The low tide didn't coincide with our visit.

Afterwards we set off down Mission Street and thought we'd carry on the California Mission tour to the Santa Cruz Mission. This must be the smallest mission. It was a bit disappointing after being in the Carmel Mission the day prior, but the gardens were very peaceful.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Stay-cation: Day 1 Monterey and Carmel-by-the-Sea

Samantha on the fireman's pole
We did it, we did our first stay-cation and survived. The kids loved it and we loved it. We got to sleep in our own beds, made a picnic lunch every day. We even spoiled the kids with Capri Suns and chips and they were content, which is the most important thing.

Day 1 started with a trip to Monterey and Carmel. We actually didn't know what we might do, but as both Al and I lived there in our college years, we knew that nothing was lacking as far as natural entertainment.

Alyssa on the rock wall
We started with a picnic at Dennis the Menace park. The girls love this place and I loved it as a child too. It's got just about everything from an amazing roller slide (which is a killer on adult tailbones) to a large rock climbing wall.

Sometimes I find myself missing Monterey, but then I remember the fog. And truthfully, we live only 50 minutes away, and now get warmer weather and fog only in the morning.

After the kids were hot, sweaty, and sandy, we drove down into Carmel-by-the-sea and headed to the Carmel Mission.

In fourth grade, the Catholic school students in our area study the California missions. So this coming school year Samantha will have a report about a mission along with a replica of said mission. We thought we'd get a head start.

We could not have asked for a more stunning day. If we were millionaires we'd have bought a house there on the spot. It was about 68 degrees and clear! Not to mention that the mission gardens were overflowing with color (The dahlias were as big as my head!), and then there were the most wonderful smells.

I must admit that I had a hard time controlling my emotions when I walked through the doorway of the old adobe. The history, the culture, the church, all of it caught me off guard. I haven't been there since I was in fourth grade.

Alyssa wanted to go into the church and sit in the pews. She was hoping we were there to hear Mass. She was very disappointed when she found out we were there just to explore.

Samantha and I were dreaming about sitting in the old "sala", which was full of 200-year-old books.

All in all, a fantastic day, beautiful and peaceful.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The girls are out of school . . . I should be saying "Yipee", but as a working mother I find it challenging. They've been too sedentary thus far and I don't like it. Although I have to admit: my oldest has bronchitis and it's been super windy (25 mph) for days. That doesn't lend itself to much outdoor activity.

At dinner on Sunday night I laid down the rules:
  • Mom is working and when there is a sign on her door that says "Quiet", we leave her alone.
  • The girls will help Dad (who is between jobs) to clean the house throughout the week.
  • The girls will read everyday. (Workbooks will come a bit later--I wanted to give them a week to enjoy).
  • The girls will have a morning routine with no TV past 9 am and a maximum of 1 hour of technology time.
  • Grooming and bed making are a requirement.
(I think I also need to incorporate an outdoor activity or exercise, other than ballet, once a day.)

We have the next five weeks scheduled with Theatre Camp, swim lessons, (two weeks!) of bible camp, and a stay-cation in there too. 

I'm looking forward to the camps because the girls will be occupied all day and exhausted when they come home. They begged for the two-weeks at bible camp--how could I argue with that. I'm looking forward to the stay-cation. I'm thinking a visit or two to San Francisco to play at Golden Gate Park and to walk the Japanese Tea Garden and some time in the waves in Santa Cruz. I am going to try to keep it a secret from the kids so they'll be surprised each day. 

Now that gets me excited! I need a job with a summer vacation, but I do love my job, so I guess this will do. Shoot, I've got a sweet summer schedule that has afternoons off on Friday, can't beat that!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My baby is growing up--Alyssa is out of Kindergarten! Next year she'll be on the big kid playground and sitting at a desk in the main building. She'll be down the hall from her big sis and involved with all the fun stuff at school. How fast the time has passed.

Her graduation was short and cute as they all danced and sang. Their Faith partners joined them for the last song "What a Wonderful World." I thought I had it together--I was certain I wasn't going to get choked up. I have to say it's very difficult taking pictures through tears. Each 6th grader and their Kindergartner opened a poster during a particular verse in the song. It was something they'd created together. It was beautiful.

The week before Alyssa was sad as she told me they were having their last mass of the school year with their Faith partners. She was so worried that she'd never see her partner again. The relief on her face when I told her that her partner would stay with her through her First Holy Communion in 2nd grade.

I am happy that my girls love school so much and love all aspects of their school itself, from their teachers to attending mass with their Faith partners to spending every day with their classmates.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Podcasts have been a thing for years now and I've never once endeavored to listen. I follow the blog Life in Grace and Edie has recently begun a podcast series so I gave it a shot. Man, I've been missing out!

So I googled something like "podcasts for the working mom" and stumbled on a website with several suggestions. I picked a couple to try. Now I'm hooked. 

I have to drive to San Jose twice a week. I get bored listening to the radio for an hour, so this last week I plugged in a podcast by Manic Mommies. I found myself laughing and smiling most of the ride and I completely forgot about sitting in traffic. It was such a nice change of pace. 

Now I just have to figure out how to find more podcasts that meet my interests. It makes waiting and traffic so much more manageable.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Today was Alyssa's kindergarten graduation (pics to come). It was cute and sweet and of course I got choked up when they sang a song with their Faith Partners. But after the ceremony we were the first family out the door. That didn't hit me until we were halfway home. Are we anti-social?

I dropped Alyssa at the classroom door most days and talked with a few moms on occasion--I was a visual presence at least. But each day I run home after drop off to log in to my computer and begin work. By 8 am there are usually several requests for information or work to be done or meeting preparation to make.

I'm not used to lingering around and conversing with other parents. Maybe it's that I don't allow myself that luxury or the "go-go-go" is so ingrained in my brain that I forgot what it's like to socialize.

Part of me felt guilty afterward, but I can't really pinpoint why. I wonder deep down if it affects the kids when we don't socialize. Do we teach them to isolate themselves, to be anti-social?